August 3


FCI 015 – An Unplugged Guide to Naples with Bonnie Alberts

By Rick

August 3, 2015

naples guidebook Anyone who reads my blog is probably far enough along in their relationship with Italy to realize that the adjective “Italian” really doesn’t have much meaning. It’s just too broad—instead, you simply MUST mention the region, at the very least, if not the exact city when discussing any topic.

Still, to foreigners who only know a little about Italy, the word “Italian” is very nearly synonymous with “Neapolitan.” From the pizza, to the crazy traffic, to the dialect, to those famous folk songs. Even American singers crooned about the romantic charms of Naples (“Scusami, but you see, back in old Napoli, that’s amore!”).

I’ve been to Naples myself exactly four times, and I still feel like I have barely scratched the surface. And as my friend Bonnie will tell you during today’s chat, there is A LOT beneath the surface, including an entire underground city.

If by some miracle you see everything in Naples that you wanted to see, there are some incredible sites within an easy day trip, including The Palace of Caserta, which I wrote about a couple of years ago, and some volcanic fields where the Earth itself is literally on fire. Oh, and need we mention the proximity to such sites as Pompeii and The Amalfi Coast? Everything that we all love about Italy is sitting right there on that sweeping bay.

Your Unplugged Guide to Naples

PetraioYes, Naples can also be chaotic, to say the least. It makes Rome look almost Swiss in its organization by comparison. That’s why a good guide to Naples is crucial to help you navigate and not get swallowed by the commotion.

That’s where Bonnie Alberts and her collaborators come in. She is a freelance writer and photographer with a passion for art, architecture, archaeology, and history. Living in Naples for nearly a decade, her curiosity and love of the story takes her all over the city, and she records everything she takes in with a camera and a pen.

Bonnie is the founder of the Napoli Unplugged website, and that work became the basis of the book, the Napoli Unplugged Guide to Naples. She regularly contributes articles about Naples to websites and magazines, and her photographic features can be found in Naples in 3 Days: Part 1: A Guide to Neapolitan Art and Architecture, and Tweeting Da Vinci. Today, Bonnie is busy working on the next books in this series, The Napoli Unplugged Guide to the Bay and the Amalfi Coast, and The Napoli Unplugged Guide to Campania.

Bonnie, and I had a great chat, and I admit that I learned several things about Naples that I didn’t know. Most (pleasantly) surprising of these revelations concerned the current “renaissance” happening in Napoli, from artistic metro stations, to dramatically improved garbage and recycling efforts, to a beautiful new(ish) promenade along the bay. Naples is one of the most rapidly improving cities in Italy, and it’s exciting to learn about all of these positive changes.

Bonnie Alberts

Napoli Unplugged Guide to Naples
Click to buy!

I would like to give a big “GRAZIE” once again to Bonnie Alberts for sharing her love of Naples with me, and for offering a free copy of her incredible guide. This book will be an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to visit Naples—and also for those who have been there, but want to deepen your understanding of this rich and complex city.

Honestly, if you don’t like Naples, you really don’t like Italy. Or if you haven’t been to Naples, then it should be at the top of your bucket list. As they say, “See Naples, and then die!”

Click the link to check out other episodes and see my list of the best podcasts about Italy.

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About the author

Living in the Caput Mundi and trying to decipher Italian culture for the English speaking world.

  • Another great podcast! I am from Milan, and I have to admit that I have always been intimidated by Naples, so much so that I never saw it! It’s very nice to hear how much the city has modernized in the last decade. I was especially happy to hear about the car and bike share programs, and fixed rate cab rides. It all sounds amazing! I think my trip to Naples is way overdue.

  • Another interesting and very informative podcast Rick, thanks for doing such a great job with these. I enjoy reading your blog, but to be able to listen to a podcast is even better. I knew I wanted to explore southern Italy and Sicily (to explore my roots on my mother’s side, similar to my Umbrian roots on my father’s), and this podcast confirmed that I must make Napoli a destination for several days on my next trip…now to just save the cash to make it happen!

    • Thanks for your support and feedback! Yes, Naples really is a “must” for serious Italy lovers like you and me. You may not love it at first sight (some do, some don’t), but sooner or later it gets under your skin.

      • Thank you and Bonnie once again for the giveaway! I am very excited and looking forward to the arrival of the book and then using it when planning my next trip! Grazie!

  • Hi Rick. I loved the podcast. I have a home in Pietrastornina, a small village in the province of Avellino about 50km from Naples. I live in South Africa with my family but go back every year to my home in my ancestral town. The reason why I write is that my grandmother was a Zullo and most of my surviving family are all Zullos as are many of my cousins. We have always associated very strongly with our Zullo family and the name is very closely associated with the town. My father came to South Africa with his sisters, but all his cousin Zullos moved to the United States in the post war period. He has been to the states to visit some of them but there were many as my nonna was one of 13 children!! The name Zullo features prominently in Pietrastornina on the war monument and on the donor boards of the church. It is very possible we could be related. My grandmother was Maria Zullo and she married a Fortunato Mazzone and they owned the inn and coffee bar in town called Bar Fortunato which was famous for its ice cream. Today my father and I own a chain of Gelateria bars in honour of our family heritage. We also own an iconic Italian restaurant called Ritrovo in Pretoria South Africa. Anyway the name is well known in the area and I found it interesting that like me you are completely fascinated by Naples. The culture of Naples has always pervaded my life and world view. Thank you for your blog and the interesting podcast. Kind Regards Fortunato Mazzone

    • Wow, what a great story, cugino! From what I’ve found through my research, my family was in the province of Isernia, Molise, just an hour or so west of Naples. (Nowadays, with a car. When they left from the Porto di Napoli at the turn of the last century, it probably took them a full day to get there.) By the way, my grandmother was also Maria Zullo. But she went by the more anglo-sounding Marie for her whole life. She was born in the US (Chicago), however, to Italian parents. And her maiden name was Apuzzo, and her family was from Calabria.

      Thanks so much for connecting! Let me know the next time you plan a trip to Italy, maybe our paths will cross!

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